Idolatry and Atheism

The Gospel Restored

The true faith, in its journeyings from the days of primitive man, has had to contend with powerful obstacles, and has never yet triumphed over them in such a manner as to become the religion of the world. It has suffered by foes and by friends: but idolatry and atheism have ever been its greatest enemies.

Atheism opposes it by a bold and direct denial of its proposition, and by asserting that there is no God. This, however, is a doctrine which has never been relished by a majority of mankind; though as in ancient so in modern times it has been very popular with a middle class of philosophers, and with such of the people as were unfitted by the defectiveness of their education to read the writings of profounder men, and more celebrated philosophers. The sentiment, then, is toto caeto adverse to the general proposition of revealed religion, and in its march among the people renders faith in God unnecessary by denying his existence.

Second to atheism in its birth and superior to it in influence with mankind has been idolatry, or the worship of false gods.—When man departed from the only true God he fell into a condition in which he was necessarily more exposed to that spirit which had seduced him from his original uprightness. Having become his prey we may be sure that so mighty and vile a conqueror would not easily resign his claims to that prey, but that every possible means would be put into requisition to frustrate the scheme of belief set afoot for our redemption.

The great adversary of God and man had upset the original institution. This admitted, we may well suppose, that his next effort would be directed against the remedial scheme by faith.—This was no mean enterprise, but called for a subtilty not inferior to that which was employed by him in his original design against the world. But how could faith in the general proposition of true religion be destroyed? By atheism? This was not sufficiently popular in its nature; and was moat likely to lose in practice what it promised in theory, and to be as feeble in effect as it was mighty in pretence. What was to be done?

Idolatry, and Satan is declared by scripture to be the author of it, idolatry was introduced; and this proved itself entirely adequate to the exigencies of the case, How? By substituting Polytheism for the true proposition, and knowledge for faith! Idolatry, by introducing the worshipper to sensible communion with the gods, exalted itself above the true religion, and by substituting knowledge for faith, rendered the last abortive, contemptible, and unnecessary; for the moment a man believed in an idol as God and yielded personal homage to it as such, instantly his faith in the true God evaporated and was abolished if he had heretofore held to that faith; and if he had not, then his first act of devotion sealed him idolatrous and made it impossible for him in future to participate in the blessings and rites of the true religion. Thus idolatry substituting false gods for the true God, and false knowledge for true faith, easily won upon the senses and impatience of mankind; and by its shows and fascinations marched triumphant through the world, destroying in its progress every vestige of revealed religion, and all the principles of faith and hope and love to which that religion gives birth, polluting and degrading the morals of mankind, till the benighted population of our globe were “filled with all unrighteousness.”

The above post is an excerpt from the book, The Gospel Restored by Walter Scott. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!